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tv   Piers Morgan Tonight  CNN  January 28, 2011 9:00pm-10:00pm EST

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>> we've only got about 20 seconds left. i'm going to put you both on the spot. six months from now, is -- is mubarak in power, yes or no? >> yes. >> yes and in any case if he's not, it's still not going to be moving towards democracy. >> we'll take that as a hedge. thank you irshad manji and james traub. good night from new york. >> be sure to stay with cnn for our continuing coverage of the crisis in egypt. "piers morgan tonight" starts right now. tonight -- one of america's strongest allies in the middle east in turmoil. the winds of revolution fanned by the power of the internet sweeping across the arab world. from tunisia to yemen, now the fury spreading to egypt. the nation some say is the key to peace in the middle east is on the verge of total chaos. president hosni mubarak has
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dissolved the government. protesters are tonight swarming the streets. cairo, alexandria and suez. president obama tonight -- >> as the situation continues to unfold, our first concern is preventing injury and loss of life. so i want to be very clear in calling upon the egyptian authorities to refrain from any violence against peaceful protesters. >> what's really going on right now? is anybody in charge in egypt? what does it all mean for peace? for oil? for the united states and the rest of the world? this is a special edition of "piers morgan tonight." good evening. it's been a day of quite extraordinary turmoil and tension around the world. we're covering this across egypt from alexandria to cairo and washington and new york. with all the global resources of cnn. we begin with our correspondents on the ground in egypt.
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ben wedeman in cairo, nic robertson in alexandria. ben, what is going on right now? >> well, what we see, piers is the army is fully deployed in the streets of cairo. and that was sort of the major development. it changed the balance in the whole events of the day. the demonstrators who were attacking and fighting with the police throughout the day in fact, throughout the last four days, suddenly cheered the arrival of the army. the police force in cairo has utterly disappeared. there's a police station just behind our office which he saw the crowd of protesters going after, attacking, trying to break down the metal doors. the policemen were inside huddled. they tried to defend themselves with tear gas but quickly changed into civilian clothing and simply ran away. we are hearing that other major police stations around the city were sacked after mobs went after them as well.
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so it's the army that's in control in the streets. people greeting them with joy, welcoming them as a possible force that could prevent the outbreak of violence. piers? >> so, ben, one of the key things that's emerging here is that the police were attached very much to mubarak and his regime. considered very oppressive. are the protesters right to see the army as the saviors, or could they possibly be misled here? >> well, the next few days we'll see. we'll see if the army is willing to defend the president of the government or it will simply stand by and let the people demonstrate, which the demonstration started on tuesday quite peacefully. of course, as the state used more and more violence against them, they started to use violence against the police. the police widely resented for being corrupt, for using
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torture, for detaining people, for no reason whatsoever. the army -- what we've seen so far is they have not tried to stop people from protesting. it seems that their job at the moment is simply to be deployed outside government buildings and prevent them from being ransacked. hasn't always worked. just down the street from here, the ruling national democratic party headquarters. a few hours ago it was utterly in flames. there were some looters taking things inside but that, of course, was mubarak's party, a symbol of president hosni mubarak. so that gives you an indication of the sentiment people have toward the president who has been in power since 1981. >> ben, thank you. nic, i want to turn to you in alexandria. in very simple terms, what do you think this protest is really about?
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>> people want change. they want a better life. they don't feel that they can feed their families in the way they used to. they have aspirations for their children. i talked to a man this evening, a middle-aged man. his daughter was 10 years old, and went out to the streets to see the armored personnel carrier on the center of the street here. he said he just wants her to have a better life than the one he's having and to have a good education. and that's one of the things people here don't get. it's really simple. they want a better life, and the guy in charge for the last 30 years hasn't given it to them. when they see him on tv saying, hey, i understand you, hey, i'm going to make it better, they know. they know that that's not going to happen. and that's what's going to make them and is making them even more angry right now. piers? >> president mubarak is clearly not going to go without a fight here, nic. how did his speech go down on the ground?
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>> we talked to -- it's the youth here that have a lot of the emotion and a lot of the drive. the sort of facebook part of the revolution here. and energy on the streets. they are the ones we've been talking to tonight. young students, 19, 20 years old. and they say, what's he going to do? just reach up all the same guys in government? is he going to bring them back? they're telling us they're not going to rest. they're going to keep coming out and demonstrating. one of the crazy weirdnesses about this situation right now, you have the army in the city welcomed in by the people. not many of them. maybe just a few dozen soldiers around the city. the crazy thing is, what are they protecting? they are protecting these burned out police stations. these buildings are empty and useless. and what's even weirder is the army are just sitting there watching the looters coming in and out of these burned out buildings. they're not getting much but the army is not stopping them.
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the army isn't facing off against the people here. we saw the people turn on the police today. and the police literally pushed off the streets, driven off the streets. their vehicles burned. they ran away. is that they fate of the army? that's what's going through the minds, it seems, of these young soldiers sitting in these armored personnel carriers here tonight, piers. >> thanks, nic. i want to turn to two of cnn's top anchors, john king and wolf blitzer, both in washington. i want to just play both what president mubarak said tonight and also president obama. >> translator: i ask the government to resign today. and i will tell the new government from tomorrow in very specific goals to work with the current situation. i will say again, i will not be easy to take any -- to decide
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anything unless it's for the egyptians. >> when president mubarak addressed the egyptian people tonight, he pledged a better democracy and greater economic opportunity. i just spoke to him after his speech. and i told him he has a responsibility to give meaning to those words. to take concrete steps and actions that deliver on that promise. violence will not address the grievances of the egyptian people. >> wolf, if i could start with you, what's fascinating about this whole uprising is it's not the conventional anti-american sentiment or being fanned at the start certainly by any sort of islamic fundamentalism. what is emerging tonight is disappointment, it seems, that president obama not going far enough. and one of the reasons, of course, may be that the americans have always supported president mubarak in the past.
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so there is an allegation that they've gone easy on him because it's been embarrassing. >> there's been a 30-year relationship, a positive relationship, between the u.s. and egypt going back to anwar sadat and then 1981 to hosni mubarak. and that relationship has been incredibly close on the military, political, intelligence, all of the levels. the u.s. military and the egyptian military work very closely together. over all of these years, piers, the united states has provided tens of billions of dollars in foreign aid, economic and military assistance, to egypt. the best u.s. military equipment. f-16 fighter jets. the egyptian military has a powerful -- a powerful capability. and the question that u.s. officials are wondering, they don't have any hard answers, who follows mubarak? for all practical purposes, most of the analysts i've spoken to think it's only a matter of time before he goes. will it be a pro-u.s.,
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pro-western, secular regime or will it be something else? a regime that rips up, for example, the peace treaty that's been in business for three decades with israel. one that turns against the u.s. and they don't have any easy answers here in washington. they are hoping for the best case outcome, but they are deeply worried, i can assure you, about the worst case outcome which they fear is possible. >> john, let me turn to you. when you watched president obama's speech this evening, reading between all the lines, and it was very carefully phrased, what do you thing key messages were that were going back to president mubarak? >> the key message to president mubarak was, not good enough. i'm told president obama made that clear privately in the conversation and then publicly you could see it in his words. not good enough. that not only do i expect you to say, if you are going to stay in power you must immediately open a dialogue. that is the message the administration had given to president mubarak before his speech to the nation. they told him we need you to say i'm not leaving as president but
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i will starting tomorrow reach out to you. we'll start a dialogue. there are presidential elections scheduled in september. i'm going to finally be more open. i'm going to allow political parties to organize and assemble. and he came nowhere near that which is why you heard the exasperation in the president of the united states' voice. and tonight in the administration, they believe they are now counting down to the end of mubarak, and they have severe questions about what is next. nic robertson just made a critically important point. talking to everyday egyptians who say they want change. they want their aspirations. what does barack obama represent? he ran on hope and change and aspirations. the white house has heard the frustration of the protesters. in the view of the protesters, the united states might privately be tough on hosni mubarak but publicly has not done enough to support them, their right to organize and have political parties within egypt. that frustration has reached the white house. many of saying this white house was slow to respond here, but i believe they get it now. >> wolf, i mean, this seems to
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me potentially very dangerous situation for the world because we're seeing oil prices rocketing. the stock markets plunging. no one is quite sure what's going to happen. egypt has always been this pivotal country in terms of the middle east and the peace movement. where does this leave us? i mean, how bad could this get, and what are the implications not just for america, but for the world? >> it could get a whole lot worse, piers. and that's the great nightmare. no doubt what's going to keep president obama awake tonight, tomorrow night and the coming nights because it started with tunisia, which is a good friend to the united states, but tunisia is no egypt. tunisia switched allegiances very, very quickly in terms of getting rid of ben ali, the longtime president there. look what's happening in lebanon. a new prime minister backed by hezbollah, backed by iran. if you take a look at yemen right now, it's a weak government, a poor country, but al qaeda and the arabian peninsula is gaining enormous
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strength there right now. it's a huge problem that the u.s. is worried about. if al qaeda can really get a grip on yemen, it could be a huge base from which to operate. and they are wondering if egypt goes and if you see al jazeera and al arabiya and all the islamic satellite channels showing what's going on. they are worried about other countries. they are worried about jordan and even potentially worried about saudi arabia. and all that oil in the arabian peninsula. so it's a huge problem that we have to watch very, very closely. and it's one of those potential game changers for not only the middle east but for the world right now. piers, all of us remember what happened in '78-'79 when the shah went down. as flawed as he was, he was a good u.s. ally. what followed now is three decades of an ayatollah-led regime in iran and there's deep concern right now that what happens next in the middle east is anyone's guess. and there's a lot of concern about that, especially the state department, the white house, the
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intelligence community and i've been checking with my sources. and everyone is simply raising questions that they're not sure what's going to happen next. >> john, if mubarak simply refuses to go, what does president obama do? how do we get rid of a guy if he doesn't want to leave? >> the administration served notice today and voices from congress are serving even tougher notice. about $2 billion a year, just shy of that goes to egypt in military assistance and other economic assistance. and it is critical to the egyptian government. and if president mubarak does not open a dialogue if he does not take some steps, the administration says it will reconsider its aid package and, trust me, voices in the congress would force the administration to reconsider that aid package, even if they didn't do so itself. now there is a caution that you can't be too abrupt here. because of the strategic importance of the egyptian relationship. but many people at the white house, all the points wolf just made are so valid, piers. and what would happen. what would the domino effect be.
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the government has urged them to be more open. be more open. but at the white house tonight, they believe the genie is out of the bottle in egypt. it cannot be put back in. and they are going to have to deal with the consequences there. and they might not like what happens elsewhere in the region but they expect more of this is coming. and the key question is what does president mubarak do in the next 48 hours and how does the egyptian army react if he refuses to yield power and the demonstrators stay on the streets. >> john, wolf, thank you so much for that. we're going to take a quick break. when we come back, we'll have some quite dramatic eyewitness testimony from people on the ground in egypt.
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>> ( chewing ) >> good night, old luxury and all of your wares. good night, bygones everywhere. >> ( engine revs ) >> good morning, illumination. good morning, innovation. good morning, unequaled inspiration. >> ( heartbeats ) cnn has editors on the ground in cairo. amir, you are an egyptian. you were born in egypt. have you ever seen anything quite like this? >> last time i witnessed anything like this at this scale was back in 1977.
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long before hosni mubarak took charge. back then, people took tens of thousands took to the streets to complain about rising prices and high unemployment, similar to what people are asking for today. but those protests back then didn't last more than a couple of days, and back then it was president anwar sadat and he was pressured to return and place much-needed economic subsidies. but these current protests carry more of a political message than real changes and more economic policy. and they definitely have lasted more than a couple of days. >> you were at cairo airport when this all started. and you've obviously seen it escalate dramatically in the last 24 hours. where do you think this is going to end, amir? >> i think it will take some time. at the airport there was a huge police presence, security personnel surrounding the airport. all the way from the plane to
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the baggage claim and from the airport to the perimeter when i tried to enter the city and was turned around with a lot of people in cars or on foot. people returned to the airport and nearby hotels and a lot of them are spending the night at the airport tonight. rooms are unavailable simply in a lot of the hotels nearby. >> amir, let me ask you. what percentage do you think of the people in cairo are supportive of these protests? have you got any way of working that out? >> i can simply -- i can easily say the majority sympathize with the protesters even though they haven't participated. i had the chance to speak to some of the people, just regular people who didn't really have to do much with the protesters. and they were really sympathizing with them. and the major complaint was the violence and the looting. but some believe even the looting, and this is just their
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theories, were by people who were hired by security personnel and police to make the protesters look bad. and so general people oar the majority of people are supportive of protests and the call for change. >> amir, thank you. i want to bring in steven cook, a senior fellow at the council on foreign relations who has just come back from egypt today in fact. steven, when you were there, what were you picking up on the ground? >> well, there was a lot of tension in cairo. upon arrival, an egyptian friend of mine had said to me, this is not the same egypt that you visited in october. and it was clear that there was concern among average people, among activists that january 25th, the first day of this, was going to be big. that's different from what the government and members of the ruling national democratic party thought about january 25th, however.
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>> you met a number of -- sorry. go on, steven. >> no, the -- those officials were dismissive of the call for protests. their responses to this range from it will be an accomplishment if -- and this is a quote -- if 50 people show up for this, to charging that if demonstrations did, in fact, materialize it was just a function of how free and democratic egypt has become under president mubarak, to finally saying that if, in fact, there were large protests, egypt was different from tunisia because the egyptian police had a strategy and that president mubarak is not weak. >> so there's been a high level of arrogance if not delusion at senior level in the government there. clearly reality has now set in. with your knowledge of how the government works in egypt, what are you making of mubarak saying he's going to sack his cabinet, get a new one? what's going toappen here, do
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you think? >> i think this falls into the category of delusional. i was in liberation square on tuesday night, and the central focus of the opposition and the people participating in the demonstration is mubarak himself. i didn't hear anything about the government or government ministers. they serve at the pleasure of president mubarak and the regime that he has led for the past 30 years. their complaint starts with him, and it goes to his son gamel mubarak, his presumptive heir and the ruling democratic party. their central focus and first and foremost among their demands is for president mubarak to go. i think going forward, it's going to be the most important group of people to watch is the military establishment. the senior command and how they are responding to this crisis. >> at the moment it seems that the police have been perceived as the enemy, the military as the friend by the protesters.
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is that, you think, the reality? >> i song start it is. the military is widely respected. has avoided doing the dirty work of keeping egypt streets quiet. the people with whom egyptians have everyday contact who are particularly brutal and have acted in particular, recently with impunity. so there is an opportunity here for the military to use its gravitas and its prestige with broader public to this situation. if these protests continue and the military is caught in a position of having to put them down, then you get into questions about whether they will remain loyal to someone -- a president who is almost 83 years old and although the military itself has been fitted from this regime, they might look to someone else going forward from whom they can also
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go with and benefit from. >> steven, thank you very much. the crisis in egypt is reverberating around the world. next, i want to talk about how the american government should respond. on our car insurance. great! at progressive, you can compare rates side by side, so you get the same coverage, often for less. wow! that is huge! [ disco playing ] and this is to remind you that you could save hundreds! yeah, that'll certainly stick with me. we'll take it. go, big money! i mean, go. it's your break, honey.
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again, i think that as we have urged repeated ly for many days, we urge a strong restraint. this is not a situation that should be addressed with violence. security forces and military should be restrained in anything that they do. >> that was white house press secretary robert gibbs urging restraint. but in the face of this crisis, what should president obama actually do? joining me now is former u.s. ambassador egypt, frank wisner and cnn national security contributor fran townsend. >> it seems everyone is trying to make out this is a huge surprise and yet resentment towards mubarak has been building for years. president obama warned him many
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times he must do something about this. so it's not really a surprise, is it? >> i think the slow developing situation, even the incidents that have marked this year, the explosion at promise in alexandria, the beating and killing of a businessman earlier, all these were events that signaled that on top of the disconnect, trouble was brewing. but i don't think you can ever predict exactly when the crisis will erupt. and if you will, this crisis with its -- the predicat ne in tunisia. i don't think anyone is completely taken by surprise. we know that the end of the mubarak period would be with us in some reason annual time frame. we've been thinking in these terms. maybe the day, but the situation is not a surprise. >> the u.s. has sent foreign aid to egypt since 1948. and that's always been viewed as a sound investment to stabilize
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the middle east politically. has that investment benefited america now, or is it beginning to look like it's backfiring? >> well, i think the real history of american engagement in egypt begins with camp david and the egyptian-israeli peace agreement that was reached and has helped preserve the peace in the middle east between egypt and israel. we remember henry kissinger's famous words there is no war without egypt. and for 30 years, we have had no major war in the middle east. and that is clearly an american interest. american aid has buttressed our presence in egypt, has given us access. it's shown our support for egypt as a nation. it's even solved a few problems in egypt itself. but it's been a symbol of the american commitment. and i think it's done very well
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by us. >> fran, robert gibbs says the administration is reviewing its $1.3 billion foreign aid program. depending on how president mubarak responds to the protesters. this kind of suggests to me they're pulling back on the support already with a view to probably wrenching that support completely. is that your reading of this? >> piers, absolutely. look. president obama waited for several days before he made the call this evening to president hosni muare aboutac. it's clear from sources and even from the president's own statement that he has certain expectations of how president mubarak will move forward from now. he made clear he's expecting restraint on the part of the security forces and a lifting of the restrictions on the internet and social networking sites like facebook and twitter. i think we need to see in the next 24 to 48 hours whether there is some reaction on the part of hosni mubarak to what president obama has said. and i think what you are hearing
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from the administration is they are going to tie that continuing aid to whether or not president mubarak heeds president obama's words. by the way, piers, it's not just in president obama's control. we have a republican-controlled house. we do have republicans in the senate. and congress has got the ability to shut those funds off unilaterally. so the president is under pressure on all sides here. >> if the aid does get shut down, how long could mubarak continue in office, do you think? >> oh, i think -- i think it will be very quick because, of course, he's relying right now, he's pulled the police back. he's got the military in the streets. he absolutely needs the military to continue to support him. and i don't think the military, if u.s. aid got cut off, i don't expect that the military, even though he's served, his son has served and he's very well entrenched and he's taken very good care of the egyptian military, i don't think the -- i suspect that the military would not support him if u.s. aid got
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cut off. >> one of the problems it seems to me is the administration is saying it supports the rights of the people who are protesting, but, of course, no one is quite sure what they are really protesting about. this is a rather dangerous statement for the administration to make. and a position to adopt. >> yeah, i think it's a very dangerous statement. you know, after all, you know, wolf blitzer said it earlier. it is not at all clear what will follow mubarak presidency in egypt. and, in fact, it's in the u.s. interest for this chaos to resolve itself quickly. the muslim brotherhood, which had a political movement decades ago has not been very politically active. not been very well organized politically. the longer this takes, you give the muslim brotherhood and fundamentalists the opportunity not only to organize but to infiltrate inside the legitimate protesters and that freedom movement there. and so from a u.s. national security perspective, we have to want to see this resolve itself one way or another. have mubarak get calm in egypt
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or to have a peaceful transition quickly. >> fran, thank you, and to you as well, frank. the world was watching today's dramatic events in egypt. but what will happen tomorrow? global implications of chaos in egypt when we come back. ♪
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as a new day dawns in egypt, what are the worldwide implications of the chaos? joining me to talk about that, robin wright and richard grenel, form eer u.s. spokesperson at t u.n. what are the global repercussions of what we're witnessing in egypt tonight? >> we're certainly seeing something that's very historic. no one could have imagined this. i agree with many of the speakers before. i think it remains to be seen. certainly we need to be a country that is heard very loudly to be on the side of the arab street. people who are frustrated with the economy, people who are frustrated with corruption in their government, and i think it's very important for the united states, although we should be cautious, as to what comes next, we should immediately say that the arab
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people deserve freedom and that we stand with them completely. the internet should be turned back on immediately. we shouldn't be waiting. i think congress could step in and say you are going to have all of your funds cut off immediately if by midnight tonight you do not have the internet, facebook and twitter back on. i don't know what we're waiting for. i think it's really unfortunate to see the slowness out of the white house, to see president obama and vice president biden trying to prop up mubarak. and i think this white house has been flat-footed on tunisia, on egypt and whatever else is going to develop in the middle east over the next 24, 48 hours. >> robin, let's talk about israel for a moment. egypt, obviously, a key compone tonight peace in the middle east. with what is going on in the turmoil that we're witnessing is the peace treaty with israel going to be a casualty? >> not necessarily. a lot has to play out over the next few days and weeks.
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egypt is the heart and soul of the arab world. it accounts for one-quarter of the population spread through 22 countries. and it was the first in the 1970 toss take a very bold move when president sadat not only agreed to make peace but also went to jerusalem and spoke to the israeli parliament. egypt set the tone. so what happens in egypt politically will ripple across the region, not just the arab world. but also in terms of the strategic alliance that egypt has had with israel for now more than three decades. >> richard, vice president biden has said that president mubarak's been an ally to the united states and he doesn't consider him to be a dictator. and yet the protesters are obviously in disagreement. they believe he's been running a repressive regime. what's been the impact, do you think, of vice president biden's statement globally, and specifically to the arab world? >> well, globally and specifically to the arab world,
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i think they are very disappointed with the american language, especially vice president biden's language. i am sure right now watching what's going on in egypt that the vice president's got to be thinking that he misspoke. he's certainly on the wrong side of history. imagine if ronald reagan would have said something like, well, let's take some steps and let's try to get something going here at the berlin wall rather than to be very forceful and say tear down the wall. and i think history gives you opportunities to think globally and to think bigger than what's really going on. and i think the vice president missed it. the arab street is clearly upset about it. if you go on and you see sites like al jazeera and others that are reporting live -- there are comments filled with disappointment from the american administration. specifically the slowness of the president and vice president's comments twice indicating that the street protesters may not be
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legitimate. >> robin, let me turn to you again. the former u.n. official muhammad elbaradei, president mubarak's most high-profile opponent. there's a suggestion he's the most likely to take over for mubarak should mubarak go. do you thing obama administration would support him? >> i -- well, it may support him. he is after all, a very familiar figure in washington. he was head of the u.n. nuclear watchdog agency based in vienna. but he is probably better known in many western capitals than on the streets of cairo. and i think he would probably be a transition figure. he's an older generation politician. he's been out of the country most of the time. the united states would probably welcome elbaradei as an alternative, but we're not there yet. i think this is likely to be a very interesting period in egyptian history. in middle east history, the fact is we've crossed a threshold of change in which the majority of the people who are out in the streets are nonideological. this is not a group aligned with
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any secular or islamist party. and because it is a body without a head, we don't know who is likely to fill the vacuum in the meantime. there are a lot of different possibilities. elbaradei, but these are also an older generation. what we're seeing is something entirely new in egypt, in yemen and tunisia and elsewhere as well. >> i think that's the key part of this because certainly there's no doubt that there are vastly larger numbers of young people in these arab cities now, including cairo and so on. and they are much more literate than they used to be. and it's the young that are driving this and they are using social networking to do it. it makes it almost out of the hands of local politicians. especially the old guard. thank you both, robin, richard. we're going to go to a quick break now. when i come back, what i want to talk about next is probably the most extraordinary aspect of this crisis. how twitter and social media are spreading this revolution. [ male announcer ] you are a business pro.
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we'll be back with more dramatic breaking news from the events in jiptd. now i'm being joined by anderson cooper in new york. how are you? >> i'm well. i'm good. welcoming to breaking news. we're going to continue the break news coverage of crisis in egypt. it's about two hours from sunrise in cairo. shortly after that, the
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overnight curfew will end, even though we've seen people ignoring the curfew tonight. the big question, what's going to happen in the next few hours. this is how last night ended in cairo. armored personnel carriers rolling into the city. the army taking positions around key installations. internet communication still cut off. nic robertson, ben wedeman were in the middle of the worst of it. they'll join us live tonight. we'll hear from others as well. national security analyst peter bergen, mideast scholar robin wright and a professor at johns hopkins university school of advanced international studies. piers, i've reported a lot from egypt over the years. what we are witnessing is extraordinary history. we've never seen this kind of crisis in mubarak's egypt. every hour brings dramatic new developments. >> anderson, you have covered this area for years. what's your reading here? what do you think is driving the protesters and how do you think this will play out in the next 48 hours? >> i think clearly the situation in tunisia has sparked something in a lot of places. we've also seen protests in yemen over the last two days.
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not as big a also incredibly dramatic and may have resonance for quite some time to come. what's going to happen, i don't think anybody can predict. you saw the press conference at the white house today. robert gibbs choosing his words very carefully. at this point, this is a fast-moving situation changing literally every hour. >> thanks, anderson. we'll be with you very shortly. for to go to the most fascinating aspect of this whole revolution, and that is the use of social media and networking through twitter, through facebook and other sites like this. even president obama referenced it in his speech this evening. >> the cell phone service and social networks that do so much to connect people in the 21st century. >> joining me now to talk about the power of social media, cnn's
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muhammad jamjune. how crucial has the role of social media proved to be in these protests? >> online activism has played an integral part in organizing these protests. time and again, we've seen so many demonstrators and protestors in egypt use sites like twitter and facebook as a rallying cry to organize these events that were going on. there was one facebook page, they were attracting thousands by the hour. they haven't been able to use it in the haste 24 hours, but they were getting so many signing up to go demonstrate on the day of rage in egypt. the fact that the egyptian government has cut all access to internet there, and the internet has been shut down for 24 hours now, underscores how scared the egyptian regime is of this online activism. and because so many demonstrators have been using these social media sites in order to organize and circumvent
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the way that the egyptian government has been trying to crack down on their right to demonstrate. >> we've seen similar use of these sites in iran and also china is. there any way in the modern internet age, do you think, for a repressive regime of any kind to shut down the internet? is it technically possible or are there ways around this now? >> well, what happened in egypt today in the last 24 hours seems to be unprecedented in the history of the internet. the fact that basically all service providers were shut down. we still don't know all the reasons behind it. we have not gotten confirmation from the egyptian government that they did it, but it seems they did. it seems the internet is for all intents and purposes shut down in egypt. that's added fuel to the fire. but nonetheless, you've seen in the last 24 hours a lot of people try to circumvent the block. people have been refers users to try to download applications on
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mobile phones and go to other sites to dial in to isbs in france even to try to be able to get online and spread this message. even though the internet is shut down, people are still trying to use it. even though there's less usage, there are still people able to tweet and post things in egypt. the hope is they'll be able to do so more in the next few days. piers? >> mark, it's unprecedented, suspect it, mark? what we're seeing is the power of the internet in its most admirable form. the internet gets a lot of criticism, but this is a fight for democracy and freedom through the internet. >> oh, yeah. it's frgratifying for me, and s amazing -- there's so many different ways social media is
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being used as a coordination for activism kind of thing, or even as a source of information, just about what's going on in their country. you see things like people talking about wikileaks in egypt. you see people getting information about how their government works that was maybe not always possible for them in a way they could share and verify information has made a fundamental difference the way governments relate to their people. it's really amazing. >> thank you very much for that. when we come back, more on social media and the crisis in egypt. welcome to the department of negotiation. home to the latest deal making technology.
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back now to talk about the chaos in egypt and the impact of social media. joining us by phone is a cairo based jourmist and news editor of the daily news in egypt. sarah, you've had an extraordinary day where you've been reporting to the world via twitter. >> yes, i only was able to do that when i got back to the office. we were lucky that we have the only isp that's working. so we have internet access. but others don't, and we're trying to put the story out through getting information through landlines, and trying to relay them to the world.
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>> honestly, the government has shut down the internet. and if they knew what you were doing, presumably they will at some stage, your life could be in danger. it's been a courageous thing for you to do. are you worried about that? >> not right now, because i think they have a lot to handle to worry about single reporters or single organizations. i think people like cnn are doing a great job, as well, and they are airing live footage of the events from the street and i think they're more worried about that. >> we're noticing that your twitter account has been going through the roof as people have been streaming on to try and read your reports here. one of the interesting aspects about this whole thing is the age profile, the protestors are young, into their social media and seem determined like you to get the message out to a wider
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world. it seems there's nothing president mubarak can do to stop it. >> yeah, but it's not only about that, but the good thing that happened in egypt, there was a crossover from the virtual world to the real world. this morning, there was no internet, yet tens of thousands went out into the street. they did not stop with the fact that they could not communicate with each other. >> sarah, have you ever seen violence quite like this? the death toll is rising all the time. thousands of people are reported to have been wounded. what are you making of what you're seeing on the ground here? >> i think the police have always been violent, but we haven't seen it this way, because we haven't seen this many people on the street at the same time. protests usually attract a couple hundred people at best. but right now, since tuesday, they've been attracting


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